How Ionic Framework can give food truck customers in D.C. a great new user experience
Washington D.C.’s food truck industry has in large part been a success. In 2009, there were maybe 10 or so trucks roaming the streets of the nation’s capital and now there are over 150 options ranging from gourmet eats to halal to creatively spun tacos. The population’s growing demand for convenient food and diversity of cuisine has helped establish a strong market for food trucks in D.C.
As the market matures and the food truck honeymoon phase dissipates, a large number of patrons are starting to expect a better customer experience. There are plenty of food truck resources online and skimming through website and apps can be overwhelming and often feel unreliable and lack proper usability; accurately locating food trucks sometimes feels like you need your own comprehensive DIY guide.
The Food Truck Struggle
Let’s set the scene. It’s lunch time, you work near McPherson Square and you want BBQ from a food truck your co-worker has raved about several times. After her detailed description of this food truck’s menu, you are salivating over the thought of a pulled pork sandwich. You know this food truck may be a little elusive but you’re stomach informs you that getting your hands on this beautiful smoky pork creation is not up for debate.
Your colleague suggests a litany of tools to help you track down the truck. You consult the truck’s Twitter account, try the most recent MRV lottery results, check Food Truck Fiesta, and do a plain ol’ Google search. Information from the various sources is inconsistent, Googling got you nothing but menu pages and images of the precious BBQ you covet (think Gollum from LOTR) while the tweets tell you that it’s on 13th and I St—so Twitter seems like the most reliable source, right?
At this moment you experience the same problems that we have noticed:
You Can’t Trust the Website
Users return to a website or application because they have no other options and hope that these sources will be reliable and trustworthy even though the results have been inaccurate in the past.
When You’re Busy and Starving, a Bad User Experience Just Makes You HangryA website may have the right information and at the same time this information can be inaccessible because of poor design. When this happens the site has failed to create an environment that allows the user to extract exactly what she needs. For example, an interactive map is a smart feature to provide for a user who is trying to locate a food truck. However, if the map is difficult to manipulate (large truck logos are cumbersome or pins are too small to click), then the user will experience unwanted challenges with gathering the information she wants.
Putting an End to the Trials & Tribulations
Employing the internet to find anything should be simple and take a matter of seconds. We want to eliminate the drudgery of locating food trucks in D.C. by creating a mobile solution that provides an awesome user experience and has the flexibility to grow with the market.
For this in-house project, we wanted to build upon our HTML5 portfolio by working with the newly launched Ionic Framework by Drifty. There are a handful of other HTML5 frameworks including jQuery Mobile and Sencha Touch. We chose Ionic because it promises better performance, clean and simple design, and is modeled off of native mobile development SDKs to make it easier for mobile developers who have built for iOS or Android in the past.
The next installment of this mouthwatering series on problem solving with Ionic will highlight our UX strategy and how we leveraged the cross-platform framework to create a mobile solution that gives food truck fans a more enjoyable experience.